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Envy123

Programmer art in a Kickstarter

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I'm currently making a prototype the best that I can, and I made a simple room where my first scene is going to be. I've also made some characters, but apparently open-source mocap files are incompatible with their rigs so I need to go through the painful process of learning to animate a simple scene. That's not a problem.

 

The problem is that the way that I see it now, while I can design the game's main mechanics (and that is the dialogue trees), I'm not an artist and everything either comes from CGTextures or BlendSwap. I'm worried that the game would not get funded if it has a good story but crappy graphics and animations, and I'm getting a little discouraged by seeing successful campaigns having very good art while my game has no good art.

 

The benefit (or maybe hindrance) is that the game's art style is semi-realistic - it's partly there but its lightmaps are no good.

 

So, is having programmer art for a Kickstarter demo/prototype acceptable? And if not, is it possible to get artists to work on an equity share with a working prototype which needs polish? I know it's close to impossible with just an idea but I heard that it's more likely with a prototype.

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Well, I don't really want to sound overly pessimistic, and really, I have little data to back up my claims, but some common sense will pretty much answer that question for you.

 

Whatever you want to sell, you need to sell to your target audience. Now, generally on Crowd sourcing sites such as Kickstarter you are "selling" to your future audience... gamers that might want to play your future game. As such, even trying to explain to them what "programmer art" is is going to be a tough nut.

 

Now, there are different thresholds for what makes art "acceptable", "good" or "awesome" in players eyes. Not only is every person different, but also different genres bring different expectations with them, shaped both by the general needs of the genre and the titles that were released before. Then there are special niches that make "not so good" art more acceptable... retro style gaming, for example (and thats the main reason for the tide of "pixel style" graphics). 

 

 

So no, programmer art will most probably not cut it anymore on Kickstarter. You might get away with it if you try to pitch your game prototype to a studio or publisher (if you had the expierience to back up the claims that you can build that game in the first place)... you will not get away with it if have to pitch to your potential customers, gamers.

 

On the plus side, just because some games are coming to Kickstarter with much better graphics than you do, doesn't mean you couldn't have success with your art style. Your games graphics have to suit your game first and foremost, and be accepted by your potential customers. Sometimes you can be surprised what graphics are still accepted by gamers, and even manage to be quite successfull with their "programmer like art" (See minecraft or thomas was alone).

 

 

Finding an artist ready to work on such a basis might prove challenging. You do bring a prototype with you, that will make things much easier (the artist can see you are serious about the project, and being able to get into a project with the technical side already in place means he can see his art moving as soon as he finishes it... both things are motivation boosts to the artist).

Maybe see if you can find somebody on deviantart ready to work with you? Or put up a classified here on gamedev to see if you can find a hobbyist that is looking to form a team. Generally there are more artists looking for a gig around than programmers, so its easier that way around.

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Well, I don't really want to sound overly pessimistic, and really, I have little data to back up my claims, but some common sense will pretty much answer that question for you.

 

Whatever you want to sell, you need to sell to your target audience. Now, generally on Crowd sourcing sites such as Kickstarter you are "selling" to your future audience... gamers that might want to play your future game. As such, even trying to explain to them what "programmer art" is is going to be a tough nut.

 

Now, there are different thresholds for what makes art "acceptable", "good" or "awesome" in players eyes. Not only is every person different, but also different genres bring different expectations with them, shaped both by the general needs of the genre and the titles that were released before. Then there are special niches that make "not so good" art more acceptable... retro style gaming, for example (and thats the main reason for the tide of "pixel style" graphics). 

 

 

So no, programmer art will most probably not cut it anymore on Kickstarter. You might get away with it if you try to pitch your game prototype to a studio or publisher (if you had the expierience to back up the claims that you can build that game in the first place)... you will not get away with it if have to pitch to your potential customers, gamers.

 

On the plus side, just because some games are coming to Kickstarter with much better graphics than you do, doesn't mean you couldn't have success with your art style. Your games graphics have to suit your game first and foremost, and be accepted by your potential customers. Sometimes you can be surprised what graphics are still accepted by gamers, and even manage to be quite successfull with their "programmer like art" (See minecraft or thomas was alone).

 

 

Finding an artist ready to work on such a basis might prove challenging. You do bring a prototype with you, that will make things much easier (the artist can see you are serious about the project, and being able to get into a project with the technical side already in place means he can see his art moving as soon as he finishes it... both things are motivation boosts to the artist).

Maybe see if you can find somebody on deviantart ready to work with you? Or put up a classified here on gamedev to see if you can find a hobbyist that is looking to form a team. Generally there are more artists looking for a gig around than programmers, so its easier that way around.

 

Thank you - very helpful :)

 

I plan to post screenshots on Polycount and get good and honest feedback on how to make the assets look better, including all those fancy maps. Don't know which maps are supposed to be used for which materials, as I haven't found that much info on that, so I'm hoping to get insight on it. Lightmaps are also overlapping so I would need to somehow fix that.

 

The graphics are partly there in terms of what I envisioned the game to be. I say partly, because of the maps and lightmaps. I'm also not quite good at animating but I'm getting there.

 

With your advice, I'll definitely attempt to find someone who would overhaul my prototype for a share. Thank you :)

 

How long should a demo be? I had developed the demo to be a small scene in a small map but it's only going to be a few minutes long, what with my writer's scripts and all.

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Thank you - very helpful smile.png

 

I plan to post screenshots on Polycount and get good and honest feedback on how to make the assets look better, including all those fancy maps. Don't know which maps are supposed to be used for which materials, as I haven't found that much info on that, so I'm hoping to get insight on it. Lightmaps are also overlapping so I would need to somehow fix that.

 

The graphics are partly there in terms of what I envisioned the game to be. I say partly, because of the maps and lightmaps. I'm also not quite good at animating but I'm getting there.

 

With your advice, I'll definitely attempt to find someone who would overhaul my prototype for a share. Thank you smile.png

 

How long should a demo be? I had developed the demo to be a small scene in a small map but it's only going to be a few minutes long, what with my writer's scripts and all.

 

 

Well, see, if shader inputs and lightmaps are your main problem, you do not need an artist yet... these kind of things are more or less technical problems that do not need artistic skill, but some knowhow in 3D rendering. You as a programmer can easely fix these problems provided you get some input from people with the needed knowledge.

 

I would advise you to open up a Thread in the correct place (beginner forum, most likely, maybe graphics programming or visual art, depending on where the root of the problem lies) and ask about it, giving the needed information as to what exactly is the problem is and maybe some pictures how it looks at the moment.

 

 

This forum is not the right place to discuss such problems, so I will refrain from answering such art related questions here.

 

 

Of course, having an artist will help you in the long run... BUT: don't expect your artist to fix your lightmaps. Some big studios have lighting specialists, some artist might be quite knowledgeable about such game engine specific topics, but generally, I would try to fix lightmaps and stuff like that myself. It is a fringe topic, half art, half technical, so instead of counting on getting an artist that is also knowledgeable in technical matters and knows the game engine, I would try to get the needed art related knowledge to fix such topics myself.

 

 

Your demo length needs to be long enough to make people want more, and short enough to leave them wanting more... TL;DR: there is no perfect length.

Personally I would make it long enough that people get a) a good idea what your game will be about, b) you can show off most of your unique selling points, your  games highlight mechanics so to speak, and c) the demo looks lengthy and complete enough that it looks professional and not half baked.

I think a single level can be enough, if you either pick ther right one or build a special demo level. Make sure what you show is highly polished instead of trying to squeeze in more unpolished stuff.

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If I were you I would find an artist who can maybe help you draw up some concept images that might help sell your game. If you show that at the moment you have placeholder art but if the funding is raised you can pay an artist to create art and this is what the art style will look like you might have a better chance of successfully getting funded. 

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Thank you - very helpful smile.png

 

I plan to post screenshots on Polycount and get good and honest feedback on how to make the assets look better, including all those fancy maps. Don't know which maps are supposed to be used for which materials, as I haven't found that much info on that, so I'm hoping to get insight on it. Lightmaps are also overlapping so I would need to somehow fix that.

 

The graphics are partly there in terms of what I envisioned the game to be. I say partly, because of the maps and lightmaps. I'm also not quite good at animating but I'm getting there.

 

With your advice, I'll definitely attempt to find someone who would overhaul my prototype for a share. Thank you smile.png

 

How long should a demo be? I had developed the demo to be a small scene in a small map but it's only going to be a few minutes long, what with my writer's scripts and all.

 

 

Well, see, if shader inputs and lightmaps are your main problem, you do not need an artist yet... these kind of things are more or less technical problems that do not need artistic skill, but some knowhow in 3D rendering. You as a programmer can easely fix these problems provided you get some input from people with the needed knowledge.

 

I would advise you to open up a Thread in the correct place (beginner forum, most likely, maybe graphics programming or visual art, depending on where the root of the problem lies) and ask about it, giving the needed information as to what exactly is the problem is and maybe some pictures how it looks at the moment.

 

 

This forum is not the right place to discuss such problems, so I will refrain from answering such art related questions here.

 

 

Of course, having an artist will help you in the long run... BUT: don't expect your artist to fix your lightmaps. Some big studios have lighting specialists, some artist might be quite knowledgeable about such game engine specific topics, but generally, I would try to fix lightmaps and stuff like that myself. It is a fringe topic, half art, half technical, so instead of counting on getting an artist that is also knowledgeable in technical matters and knows the game engine, I would try to get the needed art related knowledge to fix such topics myself.

 

 

Your demo length needs to be long enough to make people want more, and short enough to leave them wanting more... TL;DR: there is no perfect length.

Personally I would make it long enough that people get a) a good idea what your game will be about, b) you can show off most of your unique selling points, your  games highlight mechanics so to speak, and c) the demo looks lengthy and complete enough that it looks professional and not half baked.

I think a single level can be enough, if you either pick ther right one or build a special demo level. Make sure what you show is highly polished instead of trying to squeeze in more unpolished stuff.

 

 

Oh right - well, that's a good thing that a programmer could fix those things. :)

 

And because of the nature of the game, I'm going to be making a polished small scene with my writer's script. Thank you :)

 

If I were you I would find an artist who can maybe help you draw up some concept images that might help sell your game. If you show that at the moment you have placeholder art but if the funding is raised you can pay an artist to create art and this is what the art style will look like you might have a better chance of successfully getting funded. 

 

That could be an option, given that my game's setting would be based on certain real-life places (or loosely based, if my local council objects to me using their sporting facilities as a game's setting, I have to contact them and ask). :)

 

But the concept artist I know has pencil and paper, and it may not give an accurate view on the exact style.

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I had talks with the leader of one total conversion I used to work on, and we agreed that I could use the custom assets in my own game as long as I pay him a 5% royalty per sale. And the assets look pretty good already, even though they don't have normal maps yet.

 

Here's where it gets tricky. I am making a short tech demo on Unity to show my potential backers that I am serious. But I was told that I would need to pay a programmer to write code to automatically convert the world from the total conversion's engine to Unity. Now, I was able to pay for the pre-made systems which would make development quicker and more effective, but I cannot afford at the moment for a conversion tool.

 

Is it fine to show screenshots of the locations in the old total conversion engine (it's open-source but non-standard) and offer a tech demo of a new place on a completely different engine? Or would the inconsistency be a turn-off for potential backers?

 

Thanks :)

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I had talks with the leader of one total conversion I used to work on, and we agreed that I could use the custom assets in my own game as long as I pay him a 5% royalty per sale. And the assets look pretty good already, even though they don't have normal maps yet.

 

Here's where it gets tricky. I am making a short tech demo on Unity to show my potential backers that I am serious. But I was told that I would need to pay a programmer to write code to automatically convert the world from the total conversion's engine to Unity. Now, I was able to pay for the pre-made systems which would make development quicker and more effective, but I cannot afford at the moment for a conversion tool.

 

Is it fine to show screenshots of the locations in the old total conversion engine (it's open-source but non-standard) and offer a tech demo of a new place on a completely different engine? Or would the inconsistency be a turn-off for potential backers?

 

Thanks smile.png

 

Could you go into more detail as to what you are trying to do here?

 

So you are developing a new game in a new Engine (Unity), and you take 3D Assets from an old Mod (Conversion = Mod?), to speed up building a prototype / demo in Unity for potential backers to see?

 

Can you go into more detail as to why the scene ("World" = Scene?) cannot be exported to an obj or fbx file and imported that way to unity? I guess we are going offtopic here and these questions should be asked either in the visual arts forum or one of the engine or programming subforums, but I would really try first if you cannot get your hand on a version of the scene that can be imported into unity without having to write a custom importer... that sounds like an extreme amount of overhead for a demo.

 

You should ask the original creator how he created the scene... if he did it in Blender, Maya or similar 3D tools, you can probably ask him for an .obj or .fbx file (Unity will import almost all the common 3D formats, even .blender files).

If he did it in a proprietary engine editor, there might still be tools available for that engine to export to .obj or .fbx. Either the original creator might be able to do it, or you could get ahold of the tools or engine editor (if its an opensource engine or one with available mod tools) and export it yourself.

 

 

But of course, only do that if you really need the original scene, and it takes  you too long to recreate in Unity.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I had talks with the leader of one total conversion I used to work on, and we agreed that I could use the custom assets in my own game as long as I pay him a 5% royalty per sale. And the assets look pretty good already, even though they don't have normal maps yet.

 

Here's where it gets tricky. I am making a short tech demo on Unity to show my potential backers that I am serious. But I was told that I would need to pay a programmer to write code to automatically convert the world from the total conversion's engine to Unity. Now, I was able to pay for the pre-made systems which would make development quicker and more effective, but I cannot afford at the moment for a conversion tool.

 

Is it fine to show screenshots of the locations in the old total conversion engine (it's open-source but non-standard) and offer a tech demo of a new place on a completely different engine? Or would the inconsistency be a turn-off for potential backers?

 

Thanks smile.png

 

Could you go into more detail as to what you are trying to do here?

 

So you are developing a new game in a new Engine (Unity), and you take 3D Assets from an old Mod (Conversion = Mod?), to speed up building a prototype / demo in Unity for potential backers to see?

 

Can you go into more detail as to why the scene ("World" = Scene?) cannot be exported to an obj or fbx file and imported that way to unity? I guess we are going offtopic here and these questions should be asked either in the visual arts forum or one of the engine or programming subforums, but I would really try first if you cannot get your hand on a version of the scene that can be imported into unity without having to write a custom importer... that sounds like an extreme amount of overhead for a demo.

 

You should ask the original creator how he created the scene... if he did it in Blender, Maya or similar 3D tools, you can probably ask him for an .obj or .fbx file (Unity will import almost all the common 3D formats, even .blender files).

If he did it in a proprietary engine editor, there might still be tools available for that engine to export to .obj or .fbx. Either the original creator might be able to do it, or you could get ahold of the tools or engine editor (if its an opensource engine or one with available mod tools) and export it yourself.

 

 

But of course, only do that if you really need the original scene, and it takes  you too long to recreate in Unity.

 

 

The story is that I made a mod based on an abandoned total conversion. After numerous failed attempts to make a prototype by myself, I decided to make a spin-off of the mod with its total conversion base. Its current open-source engine has been touted as "archaic" and not suitable for modern game development.

 

My team has agreed that the game would be ported over to Unity but for that, I would need to pay money I don't yet have. My tech demo (Unity) of a new place is going by smoothly but I want to show more than just the inside of one building in the screenshots. I have a perfectly detailed world which I can showcase, but it's only in the old engine, not in Unity.

 

The tech demo is not the problem - it's screenshots of other places which are the problem.

 

PS. The open source engine is non-standard. It contains all of the data in .esp and .esm files, including records and land data. It would require a tool which could read such files and output the same exact levels in Unity, taking into account the scaling and rotation differences between the two engines. Such a tool is not going to be cheap, but it will very much help the development of the actual game in the long run.

Edited by Envy123

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My team has agreed that the game would be ported over to Unity but for that, I would need to pay money I don't yet have.

Reading your posts I would sugguest to re-evaluate your situation before starting a kickstarter. Many people seems to view kickstarter wrong, as the name suggested, it is only a kickstart, a start and not the funding of a whole project. Yes, there are some projects (a hand full?) which over-performes, but the common project funding seems like a drop in the bucket.

 

So, if you want $10000, how do you get the other $90000 to finish a project ? That is something I observe very often in kickstarter projects and I always ask myself, if the project owner really knows how expensive game development is and how they will get all the funding they need  ? It is a business, and kickstart is not a complete funding platform (a publish takes often this role).

 

The basic idea behind kickstart is for me, that you display not only skill, but already a solid investment, either in time or money, therefor programmer art is just a clear sign, that you are not investing money or time and that you believe, that kickstart will deliver a complete funding for your dream. And art is the most expensive part of (most) AAA game development and a reason successful indie projects often use not so expensive art styles.

 

Take a look at natural selection 2. The original first version was a mod, the second part was developed as stand alone game, the final budget for the second part was ~ $2.9M, which is really low-budget compared to AAA games. Here you can read up the post mortom.

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